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Pakistan Railways Raises Broadband Crossing Fees

Pakistan Railways Raises Broadband Crossing Fees

Pakistan Railways has significantly raised the right of way (ROW) charges for a single-track crossing to Rs. 3.8 million for five years. This decision has been made amid ongoing reforms in telecom policies and a reduction in ROW charges for fiber broadband by the Caretaker Federal IT Minister, Dr. Umar Saif.

Historically, Pakistan Railways charged Rs. 100,000 per track crossing for 10 years when telecom operators installed fiber broadband. In 2007, the charges were increased to Rs. 2.7 million for five years, as the use of fiber broadband expanded. However, in 2022, the PTI-led government reduced the crossing charges to Rs. 600,000 per crossing for a lifetime to promote fiber broadband.

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Unfortunately, this policy was canceled by the PDM government in May 2023. Now, on December 12, 2023, Pakistan Railways has announced a substantial increase in track crossing charges to Rs. 3.8 million for five years for telecom operators. In contrast, cable TV operators continue to pay only Rs. 100 per year.

The telecom industry has expressed serious concern over this move, with the Vice Chairman of the Telecom Operators Association of Pakistan, Wahaj Siraj, stating that it is an attempt to illegitimately generate revenue from telecom operators, hindering investments in broadband and potentially regressing the country’s technological progress. This decision has been made at a critical time when the Special Facilitation Investment Council (SIFC), led by the Prime Minister of Pakistan with the Chief of Army Staff as a key member, is implementing various reforms to support the IT and telecom sector.